« | Home | »

The Death of Fadlallah

Tags: |

Misperception, willful or naive, is to be expected in US commentary on the Middle East. But it’s hard to think of an Arab figure as consistently misperceived as the Lebanese Shia cleric Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, who died on 4 July (a holiday you can be fairly sure he wasn’t celebrating). In obituaries in the American press (and in poor Octavia Nasr’s tweet, which cost her a job at CNN), Fadlallah was, as ever, described as the ‘spiritual leader’ or ‘spiritual father’ of Hezbollah: never mind that he’d been estranged from Hezbollah since the 1990s. And he was invariably portrayed as a dangerous extremist, if not a terrorist. You would hardly know that he was the first cleric in the Islamic world to denounce the attacks of September 11, or that he was an advocate of gender equality and inter-religious dialogue, staking out positions which won him the praise of Frances Guy, Britain’s ambassador to Beirut. Guy may be joining Nasr on the unemployment line for cutting through the usual clichés about Hezbollah’s ‘spiritual leader’: her blog, honouring Fadlallah as a ‘decent man’ whose death left Lebanon ‘a lesser place’, was taken down by the Foreign Office after ‘mature consideration’ — and vituperative Israeli attacks. This article by David Kenner in Foreign Policy sets the record straight on a complicated and influential man.

Comments on “The Death of Fadlallah”

  1. pinhut says:

    I read the Independent piece on it. Once you reached the line – “The Israel reaction was one of fury…” then you knew it was all over for Guy. Thou shalt not offendeth Israel has become a rather central, if unstated, feature of UK politics since 1997.

    Israel is also currently staging a Holocaust memorial in Guatemala, a country whose ‘dirty war’ it supplied equipment to (after the US imposed a military embargo), including a computer system that was used to target subversives for disappearance, along with the services of COIN advisers, etc.

    That was state terrorism, though, so I suppose it’s okay.

  2. Desertico says:

    This is a well written piece on this man about who I had read very little and heard even less. The questions must inevitably arise as to who is going to replace Fadlallah.

Comment on this post

Log in or register to post a comment.

  • Recent Posts

    RSS – posts

  • Contributors

  • Recent Comments

    • name on Who is the enemy?: Simply stating it is correct doesn't make it so, I just wish you would apply the same epistemic vigilance to "Muslim crimes" as you do to their Hebrew...
    • Glen Newey on Unwinnable War: The legal issue admits of far less clarity than the simple terms in which you – I imagine quite sincerely – frame them. For the benefit of readers...
    • Geoff Roberts on The New Normal: The causes go back a long way into the colonial past, but the more immediate causes stem from the activities of the US forces in the name of freedom a...
    • sol_adelman on The New Normal: There's also the fact that the French state denied the mass drownings of '61 even happened for forty-odd years. No episode in post-war W European hist...
    • funky gibbon on At Wembley: If England get France in the quarter finals of Euro 16 I expect that a good deal of the fraternity will go out the window

    RSS – comments

  • Contact

  • Blog Archive

  • From the LRB Archive

    Edward Said: The Iraq War
    17 April 2003

    ‘This is the most reckless war in modern times. It is all about imperial arrogance unschooled in worldliness, unfettered either by competence or experience, undeterred by history or human complexity, unrepentant in its violence and the cruelty of its technology.’

    David Runciman:
    The Politics of Good Intentions
    8 May 2003

    ‘One of the things that unites all critics of Blair’s war in Iraq, whether from the Left or the Right, is that they are sick of the sound of Blair trumpeting the purity of his purpose, when what matters is the consequences of his actions.’

    Simon Wren-Lewis: The Austerity Con
    19 February 2015

    ‘How did a policy that makes so little sense to economists come to be seen by so many people as inevitable?’

    Hugh Roberts: The Hijackers
    16 July 2015

    ‘American intelligence saw Islamic State coming and was not only relaxed about the prospect but, it appears, positively interested in it.’

Advertisement Advertisement